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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

PARALDEHYDE                                                         651

the medicine and the viscera removed from his body showed the presence of
chloral hydrate.54

Accidental death resulted in one case in three hours after the intro-
duction of 5.86 grammes of chloral hydrate into the rectum and in another
case in six minutes after the injection of 6 grammes into a vein for the
purpose of procuring surgical anaesthesia.55

Chloral hydrate has "been used in a few cases for suicidal purposes. It
has not been employed criminally with the intent of causing death but it has
been administered with a view to stupefying the victim so as to facilitate
the commission of rape or robbery, and has sometimes caused death. The
smell and taste of chloral hydrate are greatly masked by beer; hence it is
easy to administer it with beer or some other foreign liquor. A woman56
was offered beer one evening by two of her visitors. After the second bout
of drinking she was made to leave the room for a couple of minutes on the
pretext of getting some "pans" (betel leaves), when chloral hydrate was
surreptitiously mixed with the remaining beer. After the third glass of this
beer the woman became drowsy and fell asleep, when her visitors snatched
away her gold ornaments and then tried to throttle her. In October 1931,
a case came to my notice in which an Anglo-Indian administered chloral
hydrate in an alcoholic drink to an Indian, and robbed him of his wrist watch
and some cash when he became unconscious. The Chemical Examiner
detected 35.9 grains of chloral hydrate in 1.4 ounces of an orange-coloured
liquid left in a phial found with the accused.

Chloral hydrate is known in certain districts of the Punjab as " Sukka
Sharab " or dry wine, and is often added to liquor to increase its potency,
A party of two died together as the result of a drinking bout. Four deaths
from Ludhiana District were recorded in which chloral hydrate was detect-
ed in the viscera.57

Chloral hydrate is rapidly absorbed from the alimentary canal, and is
carried to the central nervous system, where it has a depressing and even-
tually a paralysing effect. It is also absorbed from the skin. In the tissues
chloral hydrate is converted into trichlorethyl alcohol which, combining with
glycuronic acid, forms non-poisonous urochloralic acid, and is eliminated in
this form in the urine. It is eliminated partly unchanged by the kidneys
and to a small extent by the lungs. Traces are also excreted by the skin.

Bromidia.—This is a BP.C, preparation, known as Liquor "bromidi compositus, a
fluid drachm of which contains 15 grains each of chloral hydrate and potassium bromide;
the dose is £ to 2 drachms. It is used for procuring sleep and soothing the nervous

Accidental poisoning has occurred from its overdose, the toxic effects being chiefly
due to chloral hydrate contained in it. Cases of suicidal poisoning have also been re-
corded. Chronic poisoning has occurred from its continued use for a long time. A
woman of 32 years took one-half to one ounce of bromidia for nervousness, sleeplessness
and pain for 18 months. She was confused, disoriented as to time, showed loss of
memory for recent events and could not fix her attention. She answered voices and
felt that people called her bad names, and that they were trying to kill her father and


This is a clear, colourless liquid, having an unpleasant, ethereal odour and an acrid,
nauseous taste. It dissolves in 9 parts of water and is miscible in solvent ether, chloro-
form, alcohol and volatile oils. It is an official preparation, known as Paraldehyduvri,

54.    Punjab Chemical Examiner's Annual Report, 1925, p. iii.

55.    Blyth, Poisons, their Effects and Detection, Ed. V, p. 167.

56.    Beng, Chem. Examiner's Annual Rep., 1939, p. 19.

57.    Punjab Chem. Examiner's Annual Rep., 1929," p. 9.

58.    Bennett, Jour. Amer, Med. Assoc., Sept. 23, 1922, p. 1048.